How to Spot Sugar in Foods

Now that the days are getting longer and that spring is finally here, it’s going to be nice to spend more time outdoors. This may also be the perfect time to rethink our diet and reduce our sugar intake which may have gone up during the winter months. As mentioned in a previous post, “hidden” sugars are in most processed products. If undetected, hidden sugars can easily impact our blood sugar even when we might think our diet is reasonably healthy. Reading labels is really important. There are numerous names for sugar in processed foods, so being familiar with those names is helpful to stay away from all this unwanted sugar. It is also good to know the differences between the terms “sugar-free,” “no added sugar,” and “unsweetened.”

Names for Sugar in Processed Foods 

The following 61 names are listed by the UCSF Sugar Science department:

  • Agave nectar
  • Barbados sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Barley malt syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Date sugar
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Free-flowing brown sugars
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin
  • Maltol
  • Maltose
  • Mannose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado
  • Palm sugar
  • Panocha
  • Powdered sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar (granulated)
  • Sweet Sorghum
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar


If it says “sugar-free” on a label, this means that the given food has less than half of a gram of sugar per serving. It can be any kind of sugar: the traditional refined sugar, maple syrup, honey, naturally-occurring sugars like lactose or fructose, etc. Sugarless alternative sweeteners are authorized under a sugar-free label as they do not add to the total sugar of the item.

No Sugar Added

If it says “no sugar added” on a label, this means that no sugar ingredients (including sugars from syrups and honey, concentrated fruit or vegetable juices) are incorporated during the processing of the given food. Even if there is “no sugar added,” the given food can still have some natural sugar (like a fruit would). 


If a food is “unsweetened,” this means that it hasn’t been sweetened in any way: no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, no natural sweeteners, no zero-calorie sweeteners.

In Summary

So if you want to cut down on your sugar intake, after doing away with sugary drinks and/or adding extra sugar to things, reading labels with the above guidelines in mind is essential. Managing our blood sugar is of primordial importance in order to maintain our health and wellness over the years.

Until next time!


Sisson, Mark. “61 Sneaky Names for Sugar You Find on Labels.” Mark’s Daily Apple Newsletter, 30 Mar. 2021, Accessed 2 Apr. 2021.

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